When I first learned of the merits of cryotherapy, I really wanted to try it. I was in the midst of trying different methods of self-care so cryotherapy fell by the wayside. Eventually, I stumbled on a fantastic value on Groupon and finally booked a series of sessions.
Unclaimed, those sessions eventually expired. But, luckily, Groupon still allows some expired coupons to be redeemed so I eventually took the plunge. After contacting the local the cryotherapy center I was advised to schedule two sessions back to back.
In all honesty, I was apprehensive going into the experience. There was a reason why I allowed the Groupon to expire. The thought of leaving my comfy home to enter an ice chamber was unnerving. I hate cold weather. Even if the session lasted for a few minutes, I was extremely hesitant.
I mustered up enough courage was partially due to the additional information I learned about cryotherapy benefits. When I first heard of cold therapy, it was marketed as a pain management option. Athletes seemed like the primary target audience. But I’ve since learned the value of cryotherapy goes well beyond addressing pain. Before I delve into the list benefits, I’d love to share a recap of my first two experiences.
The session itself lasts only 3 minutes. The three minutes can feel like an eternity if you don’t know what to expect. The first piece of advice I have for you is to avoid lotioning your skin prior to your appointment. Any moisture on the skin could actually freeze due to the extremely low temps.
It gets cold in the chamber. So cold that your skin actually starts to freeze up. To make time pass more quickly, I slowly spun around as the icy air hit my body. The closer we got to the 3-minute mark, the harder it became to keep turning. But, by the time you start to feel the struggle, the session is almost complete.
The moment you step out, your body immediately begins to warm up. Within minutes, you’ve already forgotten the discomfort felt only a short time ago. The very first benefit that I experienced that day was a burst of energy that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Besides the boost of energy, I also started experiencing deep, restful nights of sleep following the two sessions.
While in the chamber, I asked the woman at the center why someone who isn’t looking for performance/pain management benefits would need to do cryo. Her response was perfect. She reminded me that everyone suffers from inflammation as a result natural daily activities. Inflammation is the foundation of chronic illness. Cold-stress therapy helps fight inflammation in a major way. When you experience swelling of a knee or ankle, what’s the first thing you do? You ice it! You’ve already experienced how well ice can help address inflammation. Imagine using a similar technique to treat the inflammation you can’t see.
The most powerful aspect of cryotherapy is how it places your body under a certain level of stress that triggers a response which is highly beneficial to the body. You see, when you are exposed to very cold temperatures, your body sees it as potentially life-threatening (you can die from hypothermia). In order to survive this type of stress, it undergoes a series of metabolic processes to ensure your survival in such harsh conditions. Your body increases the number of red & white blood cells to protect your immune system. It also releases various hormones that help optimize the function of your cells. Essentially, the body responds to the cold stress by strengthening itself to better deal with the stress in the future.
A similar type of process occurs with heat-induced stress (like from a sauna).
Another reason why I am choosing to continue with cryotherapy, even though I don’t enjoy it that much, is because enduring freezing temps for a few minutes is an act of courage. Years ago, I took cold showers in the dead of winter. It was brutal. But I noticed that after taking cold showers, I experienced a heightened sense of productivity and fearlessness. I conquered an activity that required a ton of discipline and, afterward, I felt unstoppable.
Cryotherapy isn’t the most relaxing or soothing self-care activity but it comes with real benefits and creates real change in your body at a cellular level. I recommend it for the healing potential. But, if you’re not yet ready to try full body cryo, I suggest that you at least try giving cold showers a try. The entire shower doesn’t have to be cold, just part of it.
With regards to external beauty benefits, I think cold showers provide immediate benefits that surpass cryotherapy. That may give you a bit of motivation to keep pushing past the discomfort.